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May 30, 1996|ART BERMAN


Due for a Rap: Adversaries of explicit music lyrics are expected to renew their attack on the record industry today at a Washington press conference organized by former federal drug czar William Bennett and C. DeLores Tucker, chair of the National Congress of Black Women. The two critics launched an anti-rap campaign last year that pressured Time Warner to dump Westwood-based Interscope Records, which now releases controversial music by such Death Row artists as Tupac Shakur and Tha Dogg Pound through alternative distribution channels. Bennett and Tucker, whose crusade is supported by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), are expected to demand that Time Warner and four other major record corporations stop distributing a new list of hard-core rap and heavy metal albums that they deem offensive. Bennett will also unveil a series of radio ads opposing explicit lyrics. The ads are scheduled to begin airing Friday on conservative talk radio shows across the nation.

Jackson Readies Tour: Things haven't gone so well in the states lately for the King of Pop so he's going to try his hand at points east--way east. A spokesmen for Michael Jackson announced Wednesday that his "HIStory World Tour" will open Sept. 7 in Prague, then head for Budapest, Bucharest, Moscow, Warsaw, Zaragoza, Casablanca and Cairo. He will appear twice in Casablanca and once in the other cities through Oct. 2. Then he plans to take the tour to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and India, with specifics still to be confirmed. Among Jackson's woes in the United States in recent years have been a child molestation investigation, which reportedly resulted in a private multimillion-dollar settlement; criticism over anti-Semitic lyrics in his "HIStory--Past, Present and Future Book I" album (later revised); a divorce; and a collapse during filming of a TV special, which never was completed.

Close 'Score': The Fugees' "The Score" maintained its No. 1 position on the national album sales chart for the second consecutive week--but just barely. The grunge band Soundgarden made the week's strongest debut with "Down on the Upside," its follow-up to the critically acclaimed 1994 album "Superunknown." "Down" sold 176,000 copies, according to SoundScan, to debut at No. 2, only 4,000 units behind "The Score." Rapper Too Short's "Gettin' It (Album Number Ten)" entered the chart at No. 3, selling 158,000 copies.


New Campaign: Outrage over conditions in clothing plants that use celebrity names was heard in Washington Wednesday as a Honduran girl spoke of beatings and intimidation at a plant that previously made pants for the Wal-Mart clothing line carrying the name of TV host Kathie Lee Gifford. Wendy Diaz, 15, brought to Capitol Hill by civil rights groups, told a news conference of conditions at a plant in Honduras where she began working at age 13. Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) told the conference he is starting a campaign to get retailers to display "No Sweat" signs guaranteeing that their products are not made with child or exploited labor. Gifford, who co-stars on the syndicated "Regis & Kathie Lee," and Wal-Mart had previously disavowed the Honduran factory after hearing the charges.

Hot Battle: Look for a prime-time firefight next Monday, as NBC airs the movie "Backdraft," at least partly as a means to try to douse the premiere of Fox Broadcasting's similarly themed drama series, "L.A. Firefighters." The Fox show will get a summer tryout and is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Sundays in the fall. NBC has been aggressive in using such programming to undercut new shows on the rival networks.

Crossing the Pond: With such attractions as Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Bob Dylan and Alanis Morissette, the Prince's Trust concert in London's Hyde Park set for June 29 sold out 150,000 tickets in 48 hours. On Wednesday, HBO announced that it will have 14 cameras, including one in a blimp, recording the rock 'n' roll extravaganza for showing on the cable network, premiering July 14.


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